Do you buy imports? (poll)

July 11,2012 by 22 Comments

Imported Craft Beer on shelvesWay back when, if you wanted to drink something different in the U.S., it had to be an import. You could argue that dark beer meant import. To many it still does.

Things have obviously changed. There are around 2,000 breweries in the U.S. each producing around a dozen beers, which if my math is correct, equals a shit-ton of different beers.

I know it’s overwhelming for me. I try to drink as many different varieties as possible. My uniques on Untappd are more important to me than my total.

But we don’t live in a bubble, and the craft revolution is taking place at a worldwide scale. Mikkeller, Brew Dog, and Baird are all familiar names of international craft breweries. Not to mention the “old” imports: Sam Smiths, Chimay, Orval, Weihenstephaner, etc.

My question is this – do you make an effort to drink craft beers from other countries, or is trying American craft beer enough of a challenge for you? Let us know below.


Update: Poll now closed. Thanks.

I’m defining craft beer by flavor and not by the Brewers Association requirements, so include the Sam Smiths, Belgians, and other international “craft” breweries.

Personally I fall into category #2. I’ll try a handful of imports each month, but for the most part I focus on trying American craft beers. One thing I do before trying the latest Mikkeller animal poop beer is ask myself whether there is a classic that I haven’t had, like a Trappist beer.

What’s your stance on buying imports? Tell us in the comments.

Mikkeller and de Molden beer bottles

Mikkeller (Denmark) and de Molen (Netherlands) have captivated American beer geeks.

About Billy Broas

He is the founder of The Homebrew Academy, a BJCP beer judge, and the homebrewing expert on the Rocky Mountain PBS television show Colorado Brews. He lives in the fine beer town of Denver, Colorado.

22 responses to “Do you buy imports? (poll)”

  1. KISS Brew says:

    I’m planning for a wedding next summer, so my beer budget has receded to homebrew and the occasional six pack. American craft beers provide the most bang for my buck.

    Even when I’m less limited monetarily, I still tend heavily towards American beers. There’s definitely enough variety to keep trying something new for a long time to come.

    • Billy Broas says:

      It’s great to have homebrew to fall back on when times are tight. It’s gotten me through many stretches like that.

  2. Sheppy says:

    I cannot think of the last import I have actually bought. I can think of a couple of Belgium beers given to me or my wife as gifts, but when it comes to purchased beer, practically everything I buy is from the U.S.

    There are so many good beers to try here. Plus, in the past, I’ve had too many bad experiences of badly cared-for beers from far away. I would rather increase my odds of getting a fresh beer by getting something more local.

    Actually, come to think of it, a vast majority of the beer I drink is produced right here in Colorado.

    Heck, most of the beer I drink is brewed on my back patio and fermented in my basement :-)

    I like my beer REALLY fresh.

    • Billy Broas says:

      The freshness point is a great one. I hate drinking an import and wondering if it’s half as good as it could be fresh at the brewery.

  3. Matt Arata says:

    I am tending to focus more locally and domestically in general. It is hard enough to keep up with new offerings from Chicago Rookies Pipeworks and other beer that falls into my lap on a regular basis.

    And I just don’t know enough about what is going on with Euro imports to make educated enough purchases.

    • Billy Broas says:

      It’s funny you mention Pipeworks. I just heard about them yesterday and their Ninja vs. Unicorn beer. Hilarious!

  4. Well I don’t drink imports such as Budweiser :) Didn’t you write a post about domestics regarding that?

    There are two things that come to mind when I think about imports. The first is why am I drinking an import? Chances are its is the only available example of a style I am trying to learn about for my own brewing purposes/competition. The second is quality. I got burned on a scottish ale that was imported and must have been real old and skunked. If I can’t guarantee some sort of freshness from an import, it isn’t worth it to me to try. Like you pointed out there are so many great American craft breweries out there, “imports” aren’t as necessary anymore. 9 times out of 10 I can find what I am looking for brewed in the good U.S.A

  5. commonman says:

    all I can say is …..USA, USA, USA!

  6. John says:

    If I’m buying beer instead of brewing it I prefer to drink it draught. That more or less rules out imported beer, unfortunately.

    Apart from that, one of the things I like about the brewing tradition is that as you travel around the beer changes – it’s not the same beer everywhere. I think that drinking too much from other areas would take the joy out of this.

    That said, it’s fun to try something unusual every now and again and an imported bottle lets you do just that.

    • Billy Broas says:

      Yea that’s a great point that others have made about the beer not being the same depending on where you drink it. As much as I want to try every Belgian out there, part of me says “Dude just wait until you visit Belgium” (which will happen some day…).

  7. Adam says:

    I’ll drink imports after I’ve tried every American beer there is …. so, not for a while. Plus, American brew just tastes better. That’s right, I said it.

  8. Sure, I prefer to drink local beer whenever possible. But living in a foreign country (Panama) I have to drink imports if I want an IPA or a strong Belgian ale or even a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

    Even in the States, there are beer styles that haven’t quite made their way into the mainstream American craft beer market yet: Mikeller’s oddballs like the 1000 IBU, lots of Belgian sours and the like. Sometimes I just want to see what they’re up to on the other side of the pond. It also helps to sample from the “Old World” of beer to get an idea of the history behind American craft beer styles being made today.

    • Billy Broas says:

      Yea you’re situation is definitely a little different with Americans being the imports. David I need to remember to get in touch with you about beer in Costa Rica. My girlfriend and I are planning a trip there later this year.

  9. Napoleon says:

    Living in Argentina, it’s very difficult to get craft beers. There are actually quite a few in the country, but they’re usually not sold in Buenos Aires (or even the country) due to taxes, competition, & politics. Other than the Chilean brewery Kunstmann, I’ve got few options.

    But when I’m back in the States, I strictly go American, because of my short window of opportunity to see what’s new. And when I travel in the States, I search out local breweries & brew pubs. (This summer I’ll do that in Colorado & Chicago… and maybe Milwaukee as well.)

    With so much happening in the States, it’s almost not worth buying imported anymore unless you really want to see how they’re doing it in Belgium, England, or Germany. But even those beers would have suffered on their trips from Europe.

    • Billy Broas says:

      I’m sure you’ll stock up where you visit the States. Let me know if you need any Colorado recommendations, but it’s hard to go wrong (except for Coors).

  10. Daniel C. says:

    I’m in that beer of the month club from World Beer Direct, I get 2 U.S. made and 2 international brews ( 3 of each ) on a monthly basis. Other than that, I try to buy something new every time I hit the liquor store. Most of it is U.S. made but there are some international imports. You could say I fall into category one.

    This is my first post here on your site, and I love it! I’m working on a keezer based off one of your builds, can’t wait to complete it.

  11. Derek says:

    I will drink both American and Imports. I kinda feel that American beers can be a bit one dimensional though, everything seems to be an IPA. So if you don’t want an IPA the selection of what American craft beers are available just went considerably down. Or that is what the biggest demands are at least. Even a lot of American Pale Ales seem to be flirting with the cusp of being an IPA. In my humble opinion a lot of American breweries don’t have a good Scottish or Irish Red or a good bitter. Most of the time you’ll just see them hop the hell out of the beer using the new “usual suspects”: Amarillio, Simcoe, Citra, CTZ, Centennial. But I don’t see a lot of American brews using, EKG, or Fuggle. Just my thoughts. I know plenty would argue differently. So I guess with that angle if you don’t like really hoppy beers then Imports seem more appealing.

  12. Boarstone says:

    I tasted real beer on a trip to Europe and Germany….never been the same since!

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